Black Cherry (wildlife quality)
Prunus serotina, 18"+ at sale, native to VT, sourced from NY.
The largest of the wild cherry trees, black cherry has beautifully shiny, striped bark when it is young. In maturity the bark becomes very dark and with a rough texture sometimes described memorably as burnt potato chips. The wood is highly valued for use in cabinetry and fine woodworking. From spring through summer, black cherry is host to over 200 species of butterflies and moths, second only to oaks in the diversity of caterpillars it hosts. These larvae in turn are fundamental food sources for songbirds – a nest of five chickadee chicks must be fed 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars before they fledge! In winter, the cherries are eaten by some 70 bird species, including ruffed grouse, woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, thrushes, and grosbeaks. Bears and raccoons will climb the trees for the fruit, while foxes, chipmunks, rabbits, white-footed mice, and squirrels frequently feed on fallen fruits. Twigs and wilted leaves contain high levels of hydrocyanic acid and other toxins which are poisonous to cattle and humans. Black cherry is also fast-growing given how dense its wood is – want to sequester carbon? Feed the birds? Grow high-value timber? Plant a black cherry!